Theater owners can look to patrons aged 50 and over for true customer loyalty, according to a new study released by AARP.

More than 30 percent of all visits by moviegoers were made by 50-plus adults, the study shows. The study was conducted by marketing data analytics firm Movio on behalf of AARP.

The 50-plus Moviegoer, An Industry Segment That Should Not Be Ignored” found that mid-life and older cinema-goers—in particular, those ages 50 and older—are a powerful force at the box office. The 50-plus consumer group is bolstering blockbusters, driving drama film box office revenue, as well as creating lucrative new niches that don’t rely on mega budgets and foreign exhibition success to be profitable. The study offers a detailed look at the 50-plus moviegoer, highlighting specific trends that are helpful to content creators and theater owners alike.

“Theater owners and studios will benefit from the insight provided in this study, which demonstrates that this demographic cluster – the 50-plus – has the ability to significantly contribute to the success of movies at the domestic box office,” said Heather Nawrocki, director, AARP Movies for Grownups. “The 50-plus audience segment has disposable income, more leisure time, and high loyalty to specific actors making this segment extremely valuable.”

The study found that 51 percent of the moviegoers who saw Jack Reacher: Never Go Back, Taken 3, The November Man, and A Walk Amongst The Tombstones, were over age 50 compared with 32 percent for the total American cinema audience.

The research suggests this phenomenon is because fans are aging alongside their favorite action stars such as Liam Neeson, Kevin Costner, and Tom Cruise.

Surprisingly, the 50-plus demographic is a significant contributor to the overall success of blockbuster movies, such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens in which 50-plus viewers made up 27 percent of the total audience. 

What’s more, the 50-plus audience was responsible for:

75 percent of all visits at art-house movies

Contributed to 56 percent of Christian films

Drove 54 percent of independent film box office revenue

Older adult audiences, the study says, can create genuine blockbusters too. This phenomenon happened most recently when 86-year-old Clint Eastwood teamed up with 60-year-old Tom Hanks to tell the story of then-58-year-old Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger’s miracle landing on the Hudson River. Sully generated $124 million at the domestic box office to date against a production budget of $60 million driven by an audience that was 57 percent age 50-plus.

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